France Revamps National Organ Donation Policy
By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 19 Jan 2017
Image: A new law makes organ donation in France an opt-out, not opt-in, option (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
France has passed a new law that presumes consent for organs donation upon death, unless the deceased has registered in official register to opt out.
The new law, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, is designed to contend with widespread organ shortages and long wait lists for transplants. Previously, French citizens who had not specified whether they wanted to donate their organs after dying could have that decision left to relatives. Now, the responsibility will fall on the individuals themselves to register their refusal on the Registre National Des Refus, and next-of-kin will no longer have carte blanche veto power. The process is explained on the ABM Facebook page.
Other options include making their intent known through written documents they can leave with their families. They can also tell their relatives that they have chosen to opt out, and these family members would then have to provide signed documentations to that effect to doctors. French authorities have also promised to make it easier for those who wish to refuse by allowing them to join the register online instead of mailing it in by registered post. About 150,000 people have so far registered their refusal.
The European Union has highlighted the lack of organs for transplant and the increasing number of patients on waiting lists worldwide. In 2014, 86,000 people were waiting for organ donations in EU states, Norway, and Turkey, and 16 people were dying every day while waiting for a transplant. In the United Kingdom, a country with one of the lowest consent rates in Europe, the organ donation rate is predicted to remain short of 80% until 2020. The biggest obstacle remains relatives’ opposition, who vetoed transplants even from registered donors.
The new regulation, presented by French health minister Marisol Touraine in 2015, is part of a long list of reforms that include a crackdown on smoking, which also includes a ban on smoking in cars with children and bland packaging; the banning of electronic cigarettes in closed collective spaces; “clean rooms” where intravenous drug users would have access to clean needles, sanitized facilities, and access to drug counselors; a ban on ultra-thin models on catwalks; and banning advertising of tanning beds. On the medical front, doctor’s visits will become free, abortion rules will be relaxed, and gay men will be allowed to donate blood.